Thursday, February 14, 2008

Students On Long Road To Recovery

Chloe Gilman, left, talks with friends and supporters at St. Thomas Aquinas Church where a benefit was staged to raise money for her recovery

By Sondra Murphy
Two academic-minded and active local high school students are on the road to recovery following separate automobile accidents. Each girl is an experienced equestrian and is blessed with the support of family and friends following their traumatic injuries.
Both the families of Chloe Gilman and Salina Butterfield have discovered that assertive involvement in their daughter’s therapy has been essential to their recovery. Each girl overcame life-threatening injuries and is making the slow journey back to health.
Nordhoff High School senior Salina Butterfield was driving to school on Creek Road Oct. 10 when she swerved and hit a stone wall. Even though she was wearing her seat belt and her car’s airbags deployed, Butterfield suffered severe head trauma, survived an initial craniotomy, was comatose and her prognosis for survival was low. In the event of survival, doctors indicated that she had a 90 percent chance of remaining in a vegetative state for the rest of her life.
Villanova student Chloe Gilman, 15, was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a single-car accident on Villanova Road Jan. 28. The car struck a tree, trapping Gilman for 40 minutes before she could be taken to Ventura County Medical Center’s trauma unit. Gilman, too, was wearing her seat belt, but sustained lacerations, minor head trauma, a collapsed lung and broke a tooth, several ribs, a forearm, and her pelvis.
Such devastating injuries can test a family’s emotional and financial resources, as well as present medical diagnoses that go beyond typical parental territory. Fortunately, Salina Butterfield’s mother has a background in psychology and special education and began researching therapies for people suffering from traumatic brain injuries. “I did not give up hope,” said Jarice Butterfield, a former Ojai Unified School District assistant superintendent. “I found research that said if you do intense sensory activities with them during this peak time, the prognosis improves.”
Jarice Butterfield used several techniques to help her daughter respond to external stimulation, including a squeeze-activated squeaker. “I would put it between her fingers and say ‘Squeak,’” said Butterfield. “Around the 13th day of doing that, her fingers finally squeezed around it. It was the greatest moment of joy I’ve ever had in my life.” Salina slowly improved in the coming weeks.
Chloe Gilman spent four days at the trauma unit and is making better progress than medical staff anticipated. “Her lung and her pelvis were the major injuries,” said Gilman’s grandmother, Shareen Torres. “She’s doing really well — much better than everyone thought she would.”
During the 18 days of Salina Butterfield’s coma, Jarice and husband, Brett, spent much of their time in the hospital and tried to cover as much work-related tasks from the site as possible. When Butterfield could not be at the hospital herself, her mother or friends would sit in to continue the sensory activities. “At first, we just wanted her to live,” Jarice Butterfield said. After Salina came out of her coma, the next goal was that she would not remain vegetative.
Salina Butterfield remained in the Ventura County Medical Center ICU for four weeks and then was transferred to St. John’s Regional Medical Center’s acute neural rehabilitation facility in Oxnard. She recognized family, her memory was returning, she was gaining speech and showing emotion. “Then, all of a sudden, she started speaking in Spanish and had a constant runny nose,” said Butterfield. What hospital staff thought was merely a cold, Butterfield suspected was more. “I told them that they needed to do more tests. They finally did and it turns out one of the fractures in her frontal lobe had opened up and she needed an emergency craniotomy.”
For this next operation in which a portion of the skull is removed to gain access to the brain, Salina Butterfield was taken to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She lived through the second craniotomy and was able to recover and resume her rehabilitation at CHLA for the next two months. “I had to be on top of it every step of the way,” said Butterfield of the proactive involvement with her daughter’s medical care. While she praises the staff in all of the hospitals where Salina has been a patient, “Parents know their children better than doctors.”
An honor student, Chloe Gilman is now recovering at home and must do physical therapy exercises and breathing exercises every hour. “She tried going to school Monday, but found it was too hard. It is too painful for her to sit for a long time.” Maneuvering her wheelchair around campus also proved taxing to Gilman. Torres said that her granddaughter hopes to return to school next week and that Villanova said they will do what they can to help Gilman catch up academically.
In addition to working with a physical therapist, her father, Derek, has been very involved with her physical therapy. “At first, she had to set up chairs around the house to rest on as she walked around,” said Torres. Some of Gilman’s mobility is reduced because of her pelvis, but her lung damage also impacts movement. “She can walk for short periods now,” Torres said.
Salina Butterfield is now at the Center for Neuro Skills in Bakersfield. This post-acute neural recovery facility has expanded on the progress she has made in learning to walk and talk again. Salina lives in an apartment with an assistant and other teens recovering from brain injuries, where she also continues her schooling and is learning to cook.
“Our goal now is for her to get her diploma,” said Butterfield. “Her long-term memory is intact, but her short term is about five seconds right now. She doesn’t remember things she learned the day before.” Butterfield said that Nordhoff has been working with them on this goal with the hope Salina can walk with her graduating class.
With Salina’s placement at CNS, Jarice and Brett Butterfield have just returned to their jobs full time. “We’ve been fortunate in that our insurance has covered most of the expenses,” said Butterfield, estimating the medical costs so far as $1 to $2 million. “Our only expense has been the out-of-home expenses from staying near the hospitals, eating out and those kinds of things.” Butterfield said that several community members, Ojai Unified School District sites and their church community have collected funds, from which they have created an account in preparation for Salina’s future needs.
Insurance from both the Gilmans and the driver’s family has helped cover much of the cost of her medical care. “The problem with insurance is it doesn’t cover all costs, such as loss of income from loss of work,” said Torres. “Family leave lets you have three months, but there’s no pay during that time. That’s why we put together a fundraiser.”
Derek Gilman spends his time off from work helping his daughter with physical therapy. “He makes sure she does her breathing exercises and physical therapy exercises every hour,” said Torres. “She does what he requests.”
Salina Butterfield is making her first visit home this weekend, but it will be several more months before she will be moving back for good. “She said ‘I need to be here (at CNS),’” said Butterfield, “’and I want to be well when I come home.’”
Meanwhile, Salina is comfortable at CNS. “She said ‘Mom, this is like going to college.’ I told her ‘Salina, this is too nice. It’s nothing like what you’ll live in during college.’” The Butterfield family remains focused and appreciative of the progress Salina is making. “Her neurosurgeon considers her a miracle,” said Butterfield. For more about Salina’s progress, visit salinabutterfield.bravehost.com.
Miriam Andrews is a friend of Chloe’s mother, Shannon Gilman, and was involved in planning the benefit to help the family. “Everyone is just amazed that Chloe survived,” Andrews said, “and then, that her healing is happening so fast.” Andrews expressed concerns about local roads, like Creek and Villanova. “Chloe’s mom and I would like to address the safety of the roads that have so many accidents on them.”
The Chloe Gilman benefit took place on Sunday and raised nearly $3,400 through auction items and attendee donations. An account has been established at Washington Mutual Bank in Ojai to help ease the financial burdens associated with Chloe Gilman’s recovery. Donations may be to The Chloe Gilman Family.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

The only girl who should be receiving money is Salina Butterfield family. And I hope she recovers. I don't like to be negative but the other girls family is well off financially. And should be ashamed to be taking other peoples money.

Anonymous said...

If you don't have anything positive to say why not just not comment. Who are you to judge others finances? Most people who look wealthy live in big debt in America. So please let's not judge others going through difficult times. Both of these families have gone through a very difficult time and need positive input and prayers. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you do not like negitivity but when someone applies for school lunch program a few years back and gets it because they hide the money they make just boils my blood. As it is my tax dollars. Also what about medical insurance.

Anonymous said...

Andrews expressed concerns about local roads, like Creek and Villanova. “Chloe’s mom and I would like to address the safety of the roads that have so many accidents on them.”

These roads aren't unsafe and have never been unsafe for people who pay attention, don't speed, don't tailgate, don't drive faster than the conditions allow, and don't do anything besides drive while they're driving.

I think the best thing we could do to make these roads safer would be to have more traffic law enforcement, and have it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Creek Road and Villanova Road have become freeways who frequently do better than 20 mph over the posted speed limit.

Anonymous said...

The post above this one is the most intelligent sounding response to this situation. Used to be all we had to do while driving was to DRIVE. Not talk on cell phones, put on make-up, drink $4 cups of java blah blah blah. And it also seems as tho the laws prohibiting kids from carrying passengers and driving in the late evening hours for the first months they have their licenses are being ignored. Too bad these things have to happen to great young kids.

Anonymous said...

As chloes mother I can tell you that while you may judge our financial status you do not know anything .As for my daughter she almost died little mention of her liver laceration that bled out dangerously .Both girls are lucky to be alive .We are not wealthy Chloe is a merit scholar and is on scholarship .I am lucky to have real friends that know and care for my daughter .You should be ashamed of your acusations to my family and if you know me so well and my daughters status please call us personally .Chloes father was forced to leave work without pay to care for chloe and our family has helped to care for her .I only hope the person that wrote that garbage doesnt have to expierence the pain of losing or almost losing your child .You have no idea and no knowledge that is quite clear .My daughter was a passenger in a car on a muddy ill kept road that many people have been injured on this year alone .So take your anonymous comment and go on your bitter way and hope to god you never need help because with your kind of attitude you wont likely get it .As for the rest of the community that has helped us with support of any kind like we are so grateful and thank god everyday for all of you.Chloe has been so overwhelmed by the visits and cards they have lifted her spirits .We love you all god bless.

Anonymous said...

Is Creek Road getting worse, or are some drivers becoming more careless? I think that some drivers are becoming more careless.

Creek Road is at least as well maintained as any other road in the county. I'm sorry for anyone who got hurt while driving on Creek, especially if they were passengers in other people's cars, but the road is not to blame -- the drivers are. There is no such thing as a guaranteed safe road or a guaranteed safe car; the only thing you can guarantee are your driving habits. If you don't drive well or if you allow your children to ride in the vehicles of other children (or adults) who don't drive well, you increase the chances that you and/or your loved ones will become sad statistics.

If those of you who have been injured or who have had children injured in accidents insist upon blaming the road or other factors, then you and your kids are not taking responsibility for your/their driving habits, and you/they will likely become involved in yet more accidents. Still think you're right about it being the road's fault? If you are, then it's quite likely that you or someone you love is going to have to discover the difference between being right and being dead right. (Not that the lesson will do you much good if you insist upon taking it that far.)

That aside, best wishes and a speedy recovery to the two young women who were hurt. I'm glad they're still alive.

Anonymous said...

Every one of us who is a parent knows what it is like to sit at home and worry about you child while he or she is out on the road as a driver or a passenger. Our hearts go out to any family who is in the position these folks are in. That said, it is just plain wrong to blame the situation on the roads. There is a question on most driving tests that covers speed limits. It is one of those common sense questions and the answer is that the speed limit is no faster than the road conditions allow. If it is foggy and you can only see a quarter of a mile on the freeway do you still press on at 65 mph? No. If the road is muddy and the speed limit is 45 should you slow down? Yes. I can understand 17 year old kids being inexperienced and not understanding this, but yikes, the mom of this poor girl is placing blame on the road that, when being driven on properly, is as safe as walking the track at Nordhoff. The tree did NOT jump out in front of this car, for goodness sake. Kids need to understand that they are driving around in a lethal weapon. In the olden days when kids were taught to drive as part of the school ciriculum they were shown a movie called Mechanized Death. Use your imagination if you did not see it. There also used to be photos of many of the local fatal car crashes hanging in the lobby of the Ojai Police Department when it was where the Board of Realtors office is now at the end of the Arcade. Kids were encouraged to go have a look.

Mrs. Gillman, we are all so very glad that your daughter survived, but please realize that the cause of this wreck...notice I did NOT call it an accident...was an inexperienced driver that was obviously doing something wrong. I, for one, worry for myself and all other drivers that are out there on the road with drivers of all ages, not just kids, who are driving their lethal weapons in an unsafe manner, and while doing anything besides hanging on to the steering wheel with both hands.

Anonymous said...

mCreek Road IS dangerous. I am an experienced driver and have still had some close calls. I know Salina Butterfield. Do you want to know what caused her ACCIDENT? A dog ran out in front of her and she swerved to miss it. Haven't we all done something like that in a moment of panic? Was she going above the speed limit? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not enough to matter. This was a fluke accident that could have happened to anyone.

Anonymous said...

If you think that Creek is dangerous, stay off of it.

I don't believe the dog story for a second.

Anonymous said...

To the "anonomous" person who doesn't like to be negative BUT manages to do an extremely well job of it: If you think the only family who should have a fundraiser would be the Butterfield family, organize one!
Sitting around, accusing people on line is not going to help anyones family. Taking action will make you part of a solution which will make you much less likey to be so nasty. I am embarassed by your nasty petty remarks and frankly, you are the one who should be ashamed. PS. enroll in a basic english class for not only will it occupy your time, providing less time for attacking people, surely it could help your dismal skills!

Anonymous said...

"If you think that Creek is dangerous, stay off of it.

I don't believe the dog story for a second."

Wow, you are a sicko! What kind of monster would say that, much less think it?!?!

I have seen dogs on creek road, who hasn't? May God forgive you! You will be in my prayers and I hope you get the help you so clearly need. Writting vicious comments may release some of your bitter bile, but you are rotten to the core!

Anonymous said...

How come we never heard about the dog from any of the witnesses to the accident?

Anonymous said...

" I am embarassed by your nasty petty remarks and frankly, you are the one who should be ashamed. PS. enroll in a basic english class for not only will it occupy your time, providing less time for attacking people, surely it could help your dismal skills!" I do feel for you. My engis skess r bad bt doont hod tht ajenst mee. You are so funny. Perhaps Comidy scool fer you. Dnt B embareshed fer me I not fer meselve. Did I hit a sorr sptt????

Anonymous said...

Unless you have personal access to someones finances you have no way of knowing whether they are "well off". In which case if you do have personal access it's probably supposed to be confidential information. That said maybe the Gilman's are just better at managing their money which to some might make it appear they are well off. If that bothers you, maybe you should learn from this and manage your own money better & not make comments without facts.

Sondra Murphy said...

Oh my. A story about two young women making valiant efforts to recover from life-threatening injuries.
I would have suspected comments about:
a-how difficult a process such therapies are for all dealing with such overwhelming physical and emotional situations.
b-that such dire medical circumstances test the fiber of an individual, her family and a community of friends.
c-the inspiring way in which Chloe and Salina are meeting such challenges, dealing with their pain and displaying maturity beyond their years.
Instead, a bunch of mean-spirited assumptions about finances and accident details.
We have all been distracted while driving and inexperienced drivers are statistically more likely to have accidents as they learn to gauge the roads.
Having had loved ones seriously injured in accidents, I remember that people who know the family are often looking for ways to support them, so included the information about the accounts created. Neither family requested I mention it.
A few technicalities: if there were witnesses to Salina's accident, they apparently did not stop. A driver passed her car shortly after the accident and turned around to see if anyone was inside, then called for help.
I was not informed about Chloe's lacerated liver. The two people I spoke with about Chloe's accident said they would ask the family to contact me, but I never heard from either parent. I would certainly have mentioned it in my story, if I had been informed of it.
I wish continued success in both girls' recoveries and praise each family for taking such an active involvement in their daughters' medical care.
To the posters of negative blogs, I hope you never have to experience the type of pain these families have gone through – or such callous judgments from your community.

Anonymous said...

I care about the girls. I just don't care very much about what anybody else thinks.

Best wishes to the girls and their families.

Everyone else: get a life of your own.

Anonymous said...

Oh, for crying out loud, Sondra, read all the comments on all of the threads. Does it seem to you that anyone here takes anything seriously?

If it weren't for the dissidents, trolls, negative commenters and food-throwers there probably wouldn't be more than 20 commenters at this blog all year long.

The http://myovn.blogspot.com blog is kaput, and this blog (in its current form) probably will be, too, before too long.

I know that you're all just trying to matter, but hasn't it occurred to you yet that this probably isn't the way to do it?

If I'm going to say anything to or about Salina or Chloe, I'm going to say it to them in person, not here. Nothing I say here changes a thing or makes Ojai a better (or worse) place. Neither this blog nor the "other" blog matter a bit to the vast majority of people in the Ojai Valley. These blogs just matter to the people who work on them and the teensy handful of people who post comments.

Skip Allen said...

I went to high school with Derek Gilman and have made his wife’s acquaintance. I don’t see them as people trying to “turn a buck” on their daughters unfortunate situation. Half of $3400.00 doesn’t cover a lot of medical expenses. Whoever posted the comment that Chloe’s family (the Gilman’s) should not receive any money to help with medical expenses because of the Gilman’s perceived financial well being is classless and sad. Having a personal agenda and throwing preverbal daggers while hiding behind an anonymous post says a lot about that person. Putting this eloquently You suck anonymous! The crux of the matter is that two CHILDREN are making great strides towards their recoveries after potentially life threatening injuries. Is Creek road unsafe? Probably. I know it was in the 80’s. Do Derek and his family have some money? Probably. But the point of the story, at least in my eyes, is that the children are doing well, together after their accidents/crashes. God bless and good luck Gilmans and Butterfields. I truly hope your children make great and full recoveries.

Anonymous said...

only a bible thump-er could try to pass judgment. Keep praying By the way creek rd is not unsafe. In fact all roads are not unsafe. It is the people driving on the roads who are unsafe.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the OV News should re think the Blog program and the Thumbs feature. They just seem to get people's feelings hurt.

Anonymous said...

I think its great. We do live in America right??

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there money from the insurance of the driver for Chloe's accident? Wouldn't she be covered that way? It's horrible that these girls were hurt, but it's also not being talked about that Chloe was supposed to be in school at the time and not be in a car with another young driver and a friend (who left the scene by the way...) Creek rd or Villanova- if you drive too fast, or are inexperienced, then accidents can happen. It's not the road, but the drivers. Young drivers: Please slow down, think, stay in school, and don't go doing something stupid like thinking you can ditch and get high and nothing will happen to you. It makes your parents extremely anxious and stressed. We love you. Take care of yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Sondra I thank you for your story .I know you were not told about chloes liver .I was offended by the comments and was not in anyway meaning to be a critic of your article .I thank you for all you have done for My daughter Chloe and I am sure Salinas family does to .My daughter is so precious to me and this truly was the worst day of my life .
Thank you and all who have helped
s.gilman

Anonymous said...

Also a note for thoose once again being negative
Chloes school was over for the day when the accident happened. She is a 4.2 student with perfect attendance until this .

Anonymous said...

All I can say is what goes around ,comes around.

Sondra Murphy said...

Mrs. Gilman,
Thanks for your kind words. No offense was taken by your previous post. I just wanted to clarify.
Best wishes for Chloe's continued recovery.
SM

Roxy said...

I've known and dearly loved Salina as a best friend since we were twelve (2002). I know it's been a while since this article mattered to anyone, but I just happened upon it now. Salina DID swerve her car that morning on her way to seminary. A big gray one, that others have seen romming the area.

If anyone cares for an update: Salina is not a vegetable. Although, her speech is slowed and walks with a slight shuffle, she's very happy. Her bright red hair is growing back beautifully. She is much loader and outgoing than she was before the crash. Which was a suprise!

I'm actually glad so many people cared enouph to comment, no matter their intentions. Losing every possesion you own in a house fire is nothing compared to losing a truly loved one. You see, just a few months before Salina's crash, Weston, our beloved friend, actually was lost in a car wreck. We,including Salina and I, were still mourning Wes when this happened.

Roxy said...

Whoa. My post was the only one made in the AM.
Much love.